The President visits SCAD - News item posted 22/11/2006
The President of India, Dr Abdul Kalam, is no stranger to the work of SCAD. He met with Cletus last year to discuss progress in rural development and in September this year, he visited Tirunelveli to see the extent of the projects and to meet members of the “SCAD family”. The President’s vision for the future of India is embodied in Vision 2020, in which he sets forth his dream of an India holding her own on the world stage in industry, commerce and technological developments and empowering rural people, so that every citizen is living above the poverty line, with livelihood opportunities, access to education, health care, clean water, sanitation and electricity.
Through our social development projects, schools, engineering and technical colleges, SCAD is bringing that vision closer to reality each day. Some of our staff and students built a 3D model showing how village life will look in year 2020. The President also opened the new block at FX Engineering College, named in his honour, and spent time speaking to students from the school for children with physical and learning disabilities. He offered guidance on how the projects could be further developed and has encouraged SCAD to begin work in the neighbouring district and other parts of India.
Women Empowered to Lead - News item posted 22/11/206
This year’s Panchayat elections saw a breakthrough for women leaders, with 266 elected to seats on local decision-making bodies, and 44 women Presidents across the region, all of whom are leaders of women’s self help groups (SHGs) which have been established, with the support of SCAD, to work at grass roots level lifting their communities out of grinding poverty and debt. A Panchayat led by a woman would have been unthinkable a few years ago, but village SHGs have empowered women in extraordinary ways. There are now 2,500 operating across the region, numbering almost 42,000 women in total.
While most election candidates represent a political party or religious group, SHG leaders have no ideology to defend or party to influence the decisions they take. Instead they are independent, operating with a real understanding of the needs of their communities, and meeting regularly with other women to identify local problems and work towards solutions, with training and animation from SCAD.
Monsoon Deluge - News item posted 22/11/2006
With two cyclones in the Bay of Bengal, the monsoon rains that began in October, have been unusually heavy. Already the village ooranies and rainwater harvesting tanks are full with three or four times more rainfall than the equivalent period last year. Although this means that drinking water will be plentiful throughout the year ahead, the monsoon has also brought devastation. It has wreaked havock for farmers, caused widespread flooding and damage to property in many of the areas in which SCAD works. In some of the coastal villages of Tuticorin, temporary homes, in which Tsunami victims were living, have been swept away. In one village alone SCAD has provided shelters for more than 250 displaced families and the rains continue.
Farmers are suffering as constant heavy downpours have prevented them from preparing the ground for their crops, and because the earth is waterlogged the roots of crops already growing are rotting, which could destroy much of this year’s harvest.
The same downpour is also terrible news for the saltpan workers. The pans are becoming diluted and in some places damaged, so work will stop until the rain clears and the sun comes back. In the meantime the saltpan workers will have to use their savings, which they now have since SCAD started working with the community.
Large areas of standing water also provide a much greater breeding ground for mosquitoes and the associated risk of disease is high. SCAD is working in the villages to educate people regarding the dangers of mosquito-bourn diseases.
In less badly affected areas the monsoons have highlighted a need for large scale renovations to be done on many of the buildings that SCAD has erected over the years. It is hard to calculate the cost and disruption to lives that this will cause.
Tree Planting Scheme to Combat Climate Change - News item posted 22/11/2006
Much of the agricultural land in the area that we work in is of poor quality with uncertain of rainfall. Over the years SCAD has planted many trees and converted baron, dry lands into luscious green income generating areas. Tree planting helps to improve the local microclimate and water table as well as expand the biodiversity of the area.
A tree-planting scheme has recently been launched with support of friends in the UK to create income and employment for SCAD communities whilst expanding the “green canopy” that will both absorb greenhouse gases and provide a natural resistance to those whose lives are threatened by the impact of global warming.
Local farmers are willing to put aside two acres of their land to plant trees and, with the help of SCAD, they will take on responsibility for the management of the new woodland. All trees are indigenous and have been specially selected for variety, output and local ground conditions. There are mixtures of hard and soft woods that will produce food, medicines and timber in the years ahead.
The scheme has target of creating 6000 acres of new woodland in the area through the support of 50 farmers and their communities who have so far agreed to take part in this scheme. We are raising funds through Salt of the Earth, a UK based Charity, by asking businesses, communities and individuals to offset their carbon emissions through supporting this project. Each two-acre plot of land can support around 240 trees that will absorb around 150 tonnes of carbon dioxide.
This is an imaginative scheme that will provide long-term financial and environmental benefits to local communities as well as linking world communities in dialogue, mutual support and action on climate change.
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